Archive for the ‘Ex pats’ Category

The price of bacon

November 19, 2016 Leave a comment
Look at the state of that

Look at the state of that

Galileo couldn’t be more relaxed and scruffy.

“Look at the state of that and the price of bacon,” Clive would say.

The expression was new to me but I love it.

It’s similar to “What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China?”

As writers in a foreign country, we rely on each other to keep the English colloquialisms blooming.

La Signora

January 21, 2016 Leave a comment
At least the dogs think something to me ...

At least the dogs think something to me …

I spent a long time last night taking my sprayer to pieces and cleaning all the little bits, but so as not to go the same way as yesterday, I phoned the family-run business where I bought it years ago.

As usual, they recognised my voice. (And advised me to use hot water to mix the ingredients, which worked.)

Is my speech that distinctive, though? Everyone always recognises my voice. I can never be anonymous even if I want to be.

There are few foreigners in this part of Italy, it’s true, and my accent starts peeping through after the first greeting or so. Also I have a slight lisp.

You’d perhaps expect people to know me by name – Damaris, or Signora West. But no-one can cope with either my first name (mangled variously as Daminus or Daramis if they even make the effort) or my surname because ‘w’ in Italian is virtually non-existent.

So who am I? I’m LA SIGNORA!! (The lady.)

(Add the epithet English, American, Dutch or German as the fancy takes you because people often mistake my nationality.)

Even Clive fairs better than me – probably because he’s less tolerant.

So ‘la signora’ phoned; ‘la signora’ will do it; give it to ‘la signora’.

People call out to me: “Signora!” Even people I’ve known for years have no other way of addressing me.

Ah well. The dogs think something to me. My smell, mainly …

Power points

January 17, 2016 2 comments
Taylor with vase 2

A very useful socket

This isn’t a post about Taylor, beautiful though he was, and is. It’s a post about the little white thing behind his head and the things that go in it, which form part of a typically complicated scenario in Italy.

To start with, Italy has a sort of admiring love-affair with German technology and a lot of appliances (whether or not they’re German) have rounded German plugs on them. These rounded plugs will ONLY fit into specially-shaped rounded sockets. So a lot of houses have these sockets fitted, as do we, but sparingly distributed because they’re more expensive. (The one in the photo is bog-standard Italian.) The alternative is an adaptor.

The standard Italian plug will fit into a German socket IF it’s one of two types – the skinnier, lower-amp one.

The two types of Italian plug and socket don’t combine with each other, except: it’s possible to have sockets which accept both types of plug. Otherwise it’s an adaptor again, making sure it goes from and to the right way round!

Nine months in France gave us plenty of experience with the French two-pin system. Multi-national adaptors were the answer, but some of them can’t cope with Italian plugs.

We still have a few English plugs and we connect these using power strips. I sometimes have great fun rummaging through cupboards for a power strip that takes Italian/German plugs and fits into the English socket of another power strip, or vice versa or any combination of the above!

The power point in the photo is crucial because it copes variously with Clive’s breathing machine, hoist, laptop, keyboard, speaker dock for his Ipod, HTC tablet … He’s suggested that we add a couple of sockets alongside the existing one, but we only have to use an adaptor in one of them and the other two will be blocked off, sending us back to square one!

Rye humour

January 13, 2016 Leave a comment
Smooth face on a very rough loaf

Smooth face on a very rough loaf

Tired of making bread with Italian flour which is really for pizza or pasta and can make for disastrous loaves (unmixed, uncooked, unrisen), we bought a huge sack of rye flour from Britain.

It’s beautiful silky stuff with an attractive earthy smell, but our breadmaker doesn’t quite gel with it.

The resultant loaves are … interesting, and comical.

We found out that rye flour should be mixed 50/50 with wheat flour for it to behave properly, but to be honest I quite like our mangled offerings.

The photo shows how well and smoothly the bread cuts – that is, when there’s enough height to the loaf to bother.

It’s also dense and chewy, like certain kinds of cake.

The main benefit, though, is that my jaded bread-palate has woken up a bit.

Short and not especially sweet

May 17, 2013 5 comments
Long and not especially sweet

Long and not especially sweet

This morning in the fruit and vegetable wholesalers in Foligno  I heard voices speaking English.

English English, not even American English (no offence).

The voices were coming from a couple about my age, I suppose.

I was choosing carrots when the wife came quite near me. “Are you English?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Me, too,” I said, beaming at her.

That was the end of the conversation.

I think she might have smiled vaguely in an embarrassed sort of way, but she didn’t say anything beyond that first monosyllable.

So much for ex-pats!